Little Buddy the Reindeer Receives Life-Saving Blood Transfusion From His Brother

Dr. Melissa Fenn, Large Animal Internal Medicine resident at the Cornell University Equine and Nemo Farm Animal Hospital, examines Little Buddy.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Little Buddy the Reindeer won’t be pulling Santa Claus’ sleigh on Christmas Day, but he will be celebrating the holiday season with his family in Shortsville, New York, after receiving treatment for a tick-borne disease that included a successful blood transfusion from his brother Moose.

The 5-month old animal had lost his appetite, energy and desire to play with Moose last month when their owner, Mike Schaertl, noticed blood in his urine.

“When I came home from work one day to check on Little Buddy, I noticed his urine was dark red,” Schaertl told the Cornell University Chronicle. “That’s when I realized this was a serious problem.”

Calling on Dr. Michael Cary, DVM at the Towne & Country Veterinary Hospital for help, Schaertl was referred to the Cornell University Equine and Nemo Farm Animal Hospital.

There, Little Buddy — who was now lethargic and suffering from a very high fever — was diagnosed with babesiosis, a deadly parasitic disease spread by ticks that was attacking Little Buddy’s red blood cells and making him severely anemic.

“We were very worried about Little Buddy,” large animal internal medicine resident Dr. Melissa Fenn said. “Most reindeer that present to the hospital with this disease do not survive.”

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